Book Review - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

I bought this book on advice from an online friend. Everyone told me how amazing it was. No one seemed to have found it boring or badly written so I bought a copy. I liked the idea that it mentioned  Berwick on Tweed, where I went to high school. I also thought the premise sounded interesting, a middle aged (old?) man who decides to do something fairly odd for a fairly odd reason and does it on a whim and totally unprepared.

It is not a spoiler to let you know it's about a man that walks, he walks a long way in an attempt to visit and possibly save a friend from his past. On his journey he thinks a lot, realises things about himself and his family, and also meets other people who help or hinder him by turns.

So first, the good. I liked the writing and the story got going pretty quickly. While the main plot got moving quickly the characters were explained slowly as Harold walked, and we realised things as he did. The characters themselves were brilliantly written, realistic and tender. Harold was shown as both weak and strong by turns, the characters, like real people, were not clearly good/bad, strong/weak but a mixture of complex thoughts, ideas and emotions. Small things became magnified and the finale of the book was incredibly moving. I cried unattractively (there was snot) through the last couple of chapters of the book.

Then the not so good, there were things written in a way so as to trick the reader into thinking one thing while another was true and this was a sort of twist at the end. Sadly I saw it coming from the beginning. This didn't really spoil the end but I felt a bit cheated knowing the author was trying to keep secrets from the reader, and yet not well enough to actually trick me! There were several bits where the new characters Harold met were glossed over into a quick paragraph. I found this a real shame as each person he met was usually written with great care and they were each very interesting. To suddenly have a paragraph that effectivly siad "then he walked a load more and met loads more people" felt lazy and a distracting. I wanted to know about all of the people he met. Maybe the author thought it would make the book too long but I would have liked it.

So my conclusion. It wasn't a great book. But it was a good book. Worth a read, though not in public and you may need tissues. It was well written I just felt the author could have given the reader a little more.

For Goodreads I'll be giving it 4 stars.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - by Rachel Joyce.  This review written as part of